From Our Lands to Your Hands Expo
“Where does the food you eat come from?” The majority of our youth today when asked this question will simply state, “the grocery store!”
Although partially true, it does not depict the full travel of our food from the farmer’s land to our plates. With only 2 percent of Americans responsible for raising the food we eat today, it is only natural that the mainstream population is far removed from agriculture and the important role it plays in our daily lives. Not only does farming and ranching provide us food to eat, but many of the everyday items we depend on are derived from some agriculture product base.
In recent years, agriculture has also taken on a new implied perception of large, corporate farmers who devoid the land of life with the use of pesticides and fertilizers. This is not the image that we want portrayed to our youth of today. The fact is, over 98 percent of farms today are still operated under individuals and families. Their land is their livelihood and they treat it with great care, usually over a span of several generations.
The Boulder Valley and Longmont Conservation District, as well as the Longmont Natural Resources Conservation Service office, wanted to provide local youth a first-hand experience of how valuable agriculture is in their daily lives and the conservation that takes place in the process. Also as equally important was to put a face with local farmers and ranchers. As a result the “From Our Lands to Your Hands: Teaching youth today the importance of agriculture and conservation” was created.
From Our Lands started out as a novel idea with hopes that a few students and a few producers would partake in the first annual event. However, response from the agriculture community to participate was phenomenal, as well as a diverse representation. Local school teachers realized the immense importance of exposing their students to an interactive agriculture education experience and were quick to sign up their classes to attend this event.
On Feb. 11, 2010, over 350 students were in attendance at the expo with 30 different presentations from local producers such as Jules Van Thuyne, St. Vrain Valley Progressive Farmers, Laber Farms, Kim Houston Natural Beef, Full Circle Farms and Miller Farms. Other organizations that provided valuable information include the Colorado Corn Growers Association, Colorado Beef Council, Colorado Wheat Council, Colorado Egg Producers, Colorado State University Extension Boulder County 4-H, Rocky Mountain Bee Keepers, Hand Weavers Guild, Central Water Conservancy District, Colorado Division of Wildlife, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, Colorado State Forest Service, Cal-Wood Education Center, Growing Gardens, Colorado Department of Agriculture, Western Dairy Association, Weld County Weed District, King Soopers, Kaiser Permante, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Colorado Department of Health and Safety Agriculture Division, Zeb Dennis Horseshoeing, Western Sugar Beet Growers, Farm Service Agency and Boulder County Parks and Open Space Heritage Center.
The presenters provided interactive 15-minute presentations on the several different components of agriculture and conservation that takes place before food arrives on our plates. Zeb Dennis, local cowboy poet, opened the event with an interactive detail of the history of agriculture along the Front Range. The local Future Farmers of America (FFA) students provided invaluable assistance as they lead each school group through the multitude of presentations.
Students were equipped with enthusiasm and a multitude of questions. The event was the first time for many students to see a tractor up close or to learn where an egg comes from, how seeds are planted, where sugar is made, how much a cow eats, that wool from sheep is used to make clothes, where our water comes from, etc. One student enthusiastically said, “This is the best day ever!”
The goal of the conservation districts and the local Longmont NRCS office is to have the “From Our Lands to Your Hands” to become an annual event.